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Insider: Rockstar/Team Bondi Split

A post on (registration required) follows up on reports of development woes as well as worker complaints at Team Bondi, developers of well-received detective game L.A. Noire. This new story, by author of the original whistle blowing article, reproduces a number of emails showing an ever-deteriorating relationship between Team Bondi and publisher Rockstar Games, and includes indications that Rockstar will not be publishing Team Bondi's next game, and the Aussie developer will not be crating the next L.A. Noire game. Here's the overview:

It's pretty well reported now that the working conditions were bad. What hasn't been discussed yet (from what I've seen) is the relationship between Team Bondi and Rockstar. I've heard a lot about Rockstar's disdain for Team Bondi, and it has been made quite clear that they will not publish Team Bondi's next game. Team Bondi are trying to find another publisher for their next title, but the relationship with Rockstar has been badly damaged - Brendan treats L.A. Noire like a success due to his vision but I think Rockstar are the ones who saved the project. They continued to sink money into LA Noire, and their marketing was fantastic. Without their continued support, Team Bondi would have gone under several years ago.

Rockstar also made a huge contribution to the development; their producers were increasingly influential over the last two years of the game's development, and overruled many of the insane decisions made by Team Bondi management. At a lower level, Rockstar also pitched in with programmers, animators, artists, QA, etc. Part of the conflict between Team Bondi and Rockstar was due to Rockstar's frustration with Team Bondi's direction, and eventually Team Bondi's management in turn resented Rockstar for taking lots of creative control. It's also worth pointing out that Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like 'Rockstar Sydney' - the more they worked with Team Bondi management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea. I have a few logs that show the relationship souring see below.

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17. Re: Insider: Rockstar/Team Bondi Split Jul 5, 2011, 11:46 Parallax Abstraction
Creston wrote on Jul 5, 2011, 10:53:
justice7 wrote on Jul 5, 2011, 10:49:
Who at R* was responsible for GTA IV?

Honestly, the story of Niko Bellec and the entirety of Liberty City was a pure work of art. I'd be very sad if Team Bondi had anything to do with GTA IV.

They didn't. 0% of Team Bondi was involved in GTA4.

As for who owns LA Noire, my guess would be either Rockstar or T2. Neither of them would have sunk money into LA Noire and then let Bondi own the property. And since R* is basically the ONLY thing that T2 has that makes money, I'd say that R* can do whatever they want with LA Noire 2.

And yes, there is an LA Noire 2 being planned (and even an LA Noire 3.)


The intro text when you first run the game says the copyright is owned by Rockstar Games, Inc. which means that yeah, they own the IP and future iterations of the series will likely be developed in house. So Team Bondi literally has nothing to offer as an acquisition. If Rockstar didn't buy them, likely their only hope is to find another publisher to bankroll their next project, who will also own that IP. Meaning that Team Bondi is really just a studio for hire that has no real value in it, especially if they keep burning through talent. Given that Rockstar funded the last several years of LA Noire's development, even with their royalties they're earning, they probably don't have much cash on hand to go without a new publisher for long.

Rockstar is infamous for their bad management and abusive treatment of their staff (see the stories about Rockstar San Diego during Red Dead Redemption's development, reports say that Rockstar Vancouver is no better) and if they are kicking Team Bondi to the curb for similar reasons, you can imagine how bad it is. I'm amazed Brendan McNamara agreed to that IGN interview. After reading that, it's pretty clear the guy is an entitled egotist who thinks he has far more talent than he actually does. He probably thinks that because of LA Noire's success, they'll have no problem landing another publisher but after these stories, I bet many companies in this now risk-averse industries won't go anywhere near him. I wouldn't be surprised if the opening of Rockstar Sydney is announced in the next few weeks (staffed with many ex Team Bondi members of course) and that Team Bondi will fail to find a publisher and burn out within the next year. They made a pretty decent game but this industry needs less people like McNamara, terrible, arrogant managers with middling game design abilities.
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